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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Beauty of a Neighborhood by Amy Luchetti

The Beauty of a Neighborhood
By Amy Luchetti

We were happily living in Pennsylvania near our families when my husband, Lenny, got a phone call from Indiana. My first words when he hung up were, “I’m not moving to Indiana.”

We moved to Indiana six months later.

Since we had been married 12 years and never owned a home, I started to dream about my dream home. When we went to look at houses in Indiana, Lenny said he wanted to show me a new subdivision near the university where he would be teaching. “No way!” I said. “I want old and quaint.” A new subdivision didn’t fit my vision of a mature tree-lined street with Bungalows, Tudors and Victorians. I declared that I wouldn’t move where every other house looked the same.

We moved into our newly built home in the subdivision a few months later. And our house looks exactly like our neighbor’s house two doors down. To their credit, they built first.

                                               Our house on the far right and Wayne and Jan’s on the far left.

We chose this neighborhood because there was a community pool and playground for the kids.  My husband could ride his bike to work and we could continue living with one car (not sure why that was so important to us). Plus, the university offered an incentive for building there.

It may not have been my dream home with the attic or wide front porch and character I desired, but it has become the most beautiful home and even more beautiful neighborhood to me. The character is found in the people of our neighborhood. We have officially lived here longer than any other place in our married years (7 years now), and I grow more and more in love.

Let me paint a picture of our neighborhood. We take care of each other’s kids, pets, and plants. We borrow each other’s tools, games, and bikes. We car pool each other’s kids to school, practices, games, and concerts. We chase each other’s dogs down the street and look out for each other’s kids.  Our kids get knocks on the door all the time. And I send my kids knocking on doors when I need a cup of sugar, butter, or a spice.  My daughter goes to a friend’s house down the street for homework help and ends up staying for dinner.  My oldest son cuts lawns in the neighborhood while my daughter babysits the neighbor kids.  My youngest son enjoys making his rounds and visiting the neighbors, causing us to knock on doors searching for him. There’s not only the neighborhood pool, ponds, and playground, but also a neighborhood fort. It’s kind of secret, set back in the wild territory of brush and trees by the
un-manicured third pond. Its location makes you feel like you are out of the neighborhood and in some far away land that can become anything the mind wants to imagine that day. 


                                                           Sam and neighbor Seth at the fort

Then there are the dear people on my street. Miss Veronica across the street comes over for tea. She has a warm and big personality that lights up a room.  Sam, our youngest son, beelines across the street when he spots her to get occasional bear hugs. We get together with Travis and Courtney, the cute young couple across the street, for coffee and dessert dates when the kids are tucked in bed. We celebrate some Easters with our neighbors next door, the Millers, when neither of us is travelling to visit family. It was Grace who taught our family to dye Easter eggs with crayons and homemade dye.  They also host the annual Christmas potluck dinner and caroling.  Every year I feel like we are upholding a timeless tradition when we all bundle up and head out their door to go Christmas caroling, song sheets in hand.  I think how my kids will hopefully look back on these traditions with fond memories and appreciation.
                                                       Miss Veronica over for tea with my mom, Lia, and me

                                                            Courtney and Travis with Zach and Lia

                                                         Grace, Noah and Zea with our kids dyeing eggs


                                                                    Annual Christmas Caroling

Then there’s Wayne and Jan. Wayne and Jan host the July 4th street picnic with the highlight being the annual decorated bike parade. Kids decorate and race their bikes down the street while adults line up and cheer, clicking their cameras. Wayne and Jan host the potluck soup dinner in the fall, too.  And Miss Jan is known around the neighborhood for passing out regular-sized candy bars at Halloween and serving hot apple cider.

                                                                    July 4th annual bike parade about to start


                                                Miss Jan (in the witch’s hat) serving hot cider

I guess I’m feeling reflective because Wayne and Jan, the glue of our neighborhood, are moving next month. They started the connection for all of us by hosting the first July 4th picnic on our street.  I believe our street is the way it is because of their intentionality in gathering us together and starting traditions. They are adopted family to us and have attended our kids' concerts and games. They have prayed for us faithfully. And they will be sorely missed.  

We met the lovely family moving into Wayne and Jan’s house. When I asked what made them decide to move here, they said it was hanging out with the families on our street. One neighbor told them he could tell who was at the door by the knock. Some may find that down-right creepy and incredibly annoying, but I find it pretty cool.  Apparently, the new neighbors thought the same, because I think that statement about the door knocks is what sold them on moving here.

You know how sometimes you realize the value of something when it’s gone? That’s not the case with our neighborhood. I realize how unique and special it is, and that it probably won’t be duplicated anywhere else we may live. I appreciate it right here and now. I am thankful that our children are being raised here. I am thankful for this beautiful neighborhood.  

How does one get to live in such a beautiful neighborhood, you may wonder? After seven years of living in such a neighborhood, I believe IT can be summed up in two words:  

Intentionality & Traditions.

Just the other night my husband and I were out walking our dog. He mentioned how much he liked our neighborhood and that he had no regrets moving here. He asked me if I had any regrets.

 No. No regrets at all.